Is this the creature that inspired tales of the legendary Kraken?
Captain John Bennett and his crew were stunned when they dragged onto their fishing boat a creature with tentacles like fire hoses and eyes like dinner plates, while fishing in Antarctica’s remote Ross Sea. It was an enormous 350 kg (770 pound) squid which they had hauled up from one mile below the surface. Could this have been the creature that inspired tales of the legendary Kraken, rumoured to devour men and crush ships?
The colossal squid, which measures the length of a minibus, was caught in 2014 and had been kept frozen for 8 months until scientists finally thawed it out in a bid to unlock the mysteries of this rarely seen monster of the deep.
In this Dec. 2013 photo provided by a crew member of the boat San Aspring of New Zealand fishing company Sanford, Capt. John Bennett shows a colossal squid he and his crew caught on the boat in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea.
Kat Bolstad, a squid scientist from the Auckland University of Technology who led the team examining the creature, told Associated Press that it was “an almost unparalleled opportunity” to examine the colossus in the hope of finding out how the colossal squid lives, how it fits into the food chain, and how much genetic variation there is among different squid types. About 142,000 people from 180 countries watched streaming footage of the squid examination on the Internet.
Bolstad said that it's possible that ancient sightings of the colossal squid gave rise to tales of the Kraken. The Kraken is a giant sea creature in Scandinavian mythology which was depicted as great beast that would attack ships and was so huge that its body could be mistaken for an island.
The Kraken was believed to be a giant sea monster which could crush ships with its powerful tentacles. Image source.
The Kraken is first mentioned in the Örvar-Oddr, a 13th century Icelandic saga, and later in the first edition of Systema Naturae , a taxonomic classification of living organisms by the Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carolus Linnaeus. He classified the Kraken as a cephalopod, designating the scientific name Microcosmus marinus. Although any mention to Kraken was omitted in later editions of the Systema Naturae, Linnaeus described it in his later work, Fauna Suecica , as a "unique monster" that "is said to inhabit the seas of Norway”.
Kat Bolstad explained that sperm whales often eat colossal squid and are known to play with their food, so sailors may have mistaken that for epic battles.
Featured image: Left: The colossal squid hauled onto Capt. John Bennett’s fishing boat in December, 2012. Right: The crew of the Nautilus battles a giant squid in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Wikimedia